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I have been to the doctor’s office eight times in twelve days…It started with strep then progressed to my favorite ailment, coughing and asthma complications.  All three kids to see the doc times two plus mom…Really, you are on the mend they say—the antibiotics should help, the prednisone, use your inhaler. When you have a child who dies simply by stopping breathing in the early morning hours, any wheeze or cough awakens the crazy corner of my brain that screams, “YES, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!”

We have been to hell and back one breath at a time—through crying, wheezing babies, strapped to monitors that beeped and rang and alarmed.  We have been under oxygen tents with steamy nebulized medicines pouring from portable units in the ER.  I have tossed and turned on sweat damp sheets trying to reassure myself that it is just a cough…that my 10, 7, 13 year old will be fine in the morning, that I will not find them unmoving and blue lipped.  But somewhere in the dark, I see a glint of steel in the distance—it reflects back the words my brain screams, “YES, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!”

I have been through normal nights—healthy with silent breaths.  So silent I had to run up the steps two at a time to place a hand on the chest to feel it rise and fall and rise and fall.  I have collapsed on the floor with my heart pounding and the crazy in my brain screams, “YES, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!”

We have rushed to the pediatrician, the convenient care, the ER to hear, “Mrs. Sechrist, his lungs sound clear.”  Only to drop off the oxygen sats cliff just 24 hours later into the hazy world of pneumonia.  Wake him every two hours for his albuterol, she said.  Monitor his breathing—ER if he says he can’t breathe…And take care of that cough of yours too. You need to sleep, mom.  And the crazy in my brain hisses, “YES, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!”

And so we put the sick in the bedroom downstairs, and we wake them every two hours…And we sleep fitfully and lightly, flinching even in our sleep at the cough…And we try to turn down the volume on the crazy in our heads that hiss and shout and scream and moan…”YES, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!”